So much aero, Orbea reveals 2022 Orca Aero

Included UCI-illegal accessories suggest they want to tri to sell it to those who also run and swim.

Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.

Jump To Comments

It’s been five years since Orbea introduced the Orca Aero, its aero road bike. First seen at this year’s Vuelta, Orbea now has a wholly new version designed to be a more efficient race bike. 

CyclingTips’ global tech editor, James Huang, already wrote an article speculating what’s new here, and as it turns out, that speculation was spot on. Here are the official details (but no test bike, this isn’t a review). 

Still a dedicated aero road bike 

The new disc-only Orbea Orca is unquestionably a race bike with a key focus on aerodynamics and stiffness. Words of lightness and ride comfort were hardly mentioned by Orbea (although not ignored in design), but interestingly, there was a surprising amount of talk about ergonomics. 

As seen from the photos of the bike being raced, the new Orca Aero has received an exhaustive aero overhaul. Both the chainstays and top tube now sit horizontally to the wind, with the former swooping up to the dropouts. The downtube and seat tube are curved around the front and rear tyre respectively, and each of these frame tubes are optimised to smooth the airflow for 25-28 mm tyres. The shaping of the fork is said to be optimised for deep profile rims, and its shape transitions smoothly through the downtube. And then there’s a wholly new aero seatpost and of course a cockpit that hides the cables. 

Cables are now concealed beneath the stem and then through the headset.
Both the head tube and seat tube blend with the tubes that follow.

No surprises here, the Basque-based company says this is the fastest aero road bike they’ve ever created and claims a 15W improvement at a fairly modest 40km/ph versus the now five-year-old predecessor. As usual, the faster you go, the bigger those saving become. And those savings are with the bike in its UCI-friendly guise (more on this below).

The Orca Aero has also received a few tweaks to the geometry, changes that will likely please the more serious (and flexible) racers. The stack figures are approximately 5 mm lower per frame size, while the bottom bracket has been lowered by 4 mm, too. 

Meanwhile, the 408 mm length chainstays now match the previous rim brake model, while even shorter wheelbase figures are said to add more responsiveness. Orbea has also adopted size-specific fork offsets, with a 48 mm offset featured on the three smaller frame sizes, a 43 mm offset fork on the four larger sizes. 

The new Orca Aero is more aggressive in fit.

While optimised around 25-28 mm tyres, the disc-only Orca Aero is claimed to fit up to 30 mm rubber. Now that’s not overly generous by current standards, but it’s yet another nod toward the bike’s pure racing focus. 

Orbea states that frame stiffness is much the same as before (which means it’s stiff), but interestingly the vertical frame stiffness (aka compliance) is said to be a little softer. James Huang described the previous model as “distinctly chattery,” and so this likely subtle softening should be a positive improvement. 

Orbea is producing just one level of carbon fibre layup for the Orca Aero frameset, with the bike pricing changing based on the equipped specification only. The frame and fork are claimed to weigh 1,150 g and 430 g respectively. 

Hidden cabling but not a one-piece cockpit 

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the new Orca Aero is Orbea’s decision to not use a one-piece cockpit. Instead, the company (rightfully) suggests that the customisable fit and ergonomic options earned by its two-piece cockpit trumps absolute aero gains. 

Designed for the Orca Aero, Orbea’s new OC3 aero-shaped carbon handlebar offers a 5-degree flare at the drops which provides a narrow fit at the hoods, an 80 mm reach, and a 125 mm drop. Orbea matches this with its own negative 10-degree alloy stem. A 42 cm version of this bar is claimed to weigh 238 g, while a 110 mm version of the stem sits at 180 g. 

Orbea’s supplied handlebars measure approximately 2 cm narrower at the hoods than traditional road bars.

With the cables guided underneath the stem and then through the headset, the integrated design is shared with the current Orca OMX and OMR. It’s effectively Orbea’s own take on FSA’s ACR system but one that allows for greatly simpler stem swaps and stem height adjustment. And while no brake hoses need to be disconnected for changing the stem, that will be a required step if the headset bearings ever become worn. This system uses a 1 1/8 in round steerer at the stem clamp which tapers to a 1 1/2 in size. 

Meanwhile, the new and lower drag Orca Aero OMX seatpost offers up to 25 mm of fore-aft adjustment and a wide range of tilt. This airfoil-shaped number is claimed to weigh 225 g (including hardware). 

Is it a triathlon bike? Well, no. Maybe?

There are some signals that Orbea has designed its aero road racer to appeal to endurance triathletes, and you see that by what bolts onto the downtube. Firstly, there’s the matching aero bottle that according to Orbea, reduces the bike’s drag by a further 1.3%. This isn’t technically banned by the UCI but for handling and fluid carrying capacity reasons, such bottles are rarely used in road races. The frame is ready to accept traditional bidon cages. 

The other feature well aligned with not wearing sleeves is the provided storage box designed to bolt to the bottom of the downtube and sit directly behind the front wheel. While it can hold spares at a low point on the bike, It’s another piece that acts as a potential aero advantage with Orbea stating it offers a 1.8% drag reduction. It is not allowed in UCI-governed races and while I realise this makes me sound snobbish, I’m not a fan of how it looks. Thankfully it’s easy to remove from the bike. 

Orbea’s spares box saves watts and keeps the weight at an ideally low position. It also makes the Orca Aero look like a tri bike.

It’s these two included accessories that initially had me thinking this was a do-it-all aero bike that can dabble in road races, time-trials, Olympic-distance triathlons, and Ironmans, but Orbea’s aero handlebar says otherwise. Officially Orbea states its included aero handlebar is not compatabile with clip-on time trial extensions, however, through the company’s MyO customisation program and for no extra charge you can elect for a compatible round handlebar to be installed.

Models and the MyO program

Orbea will be offering six models of the new Orca Aero, all of which feature the same OMX-level frame, fork, integrated headset, seatpost, stem and handlebar.

Complete bike prices range from US$4,499 / £3,999 / €3.999 all the way up to €9.599 / US$9,999 / £9,599. That entry point gets you the Orca Aero M20LTD with an Ultegra R8000 mechanical build kit and Fulcrum alloy wheels. Orbea also has models with SRAM Rival eTap AXS, Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8150, SRAM Force eTap AXS, SRAM Red eTap AXS. While the top dog, the Orca Aero M10iLTD, offers a complete Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 R9250 group with matching wheels.  

Like many of Orbea’s bikes, each model of the Orca Aero can be personalised via the company’s MyO program which provides a staggering number of paint options and a few chances to personalise the spec. For example, the optional program allows you to make cockpit size choices, change wheel depth or just upgrade the hoops altogether, tailor gearing ratios, choose the saddle, and even add a power meter. And impressively there’s no extra charge for many of the customisations related to fit and finish. 

You can see more specific details and pricing of the new Orca Aero at Orbea.com

Editors' Picks